I have to admit that before this book, I have never given lobsters more than ten minutes of thought before. Maybe not even that. When I asked a trusted reader-friend what I should read if I was going to visit Maine, she recommended this book. My expectations were probably low, considering the subject matter, but the minute I started listening, I was all in.
The Secret Life of Lobsters is absolutely, yes, about lobsters. It's about their behavior, their physical bodies, their mating and the specific environment that their bodies need to grow and thrive. The science here is pretty fascinating, even for a non-scientist like myself, we dig deep into actual hands-on research, in the lab, out in the water and, interestingly enough, on the lobsterman's boat. Throughout the text we get to know a lot of different scientists who have dedicated their career (and lives, in some cases) to understanding the lobster itself. We also get to know a few very specific lobstermen (and women) from the Maine Coast. These people spend their daylight hours out on the water, seeing first hand how lobsters interact with their world and, for the even more importantly, how lobsters as a resource are being managed.
Much of this book is this pull and tug between the scientists and the lobstermen and how the population of lobsters is handling the current rates of fishing. Overfishing is a real issue, obviously, but it is interesting to see how the lobstermen have tackled it. Science can measure and calculate so many different minuscule things but it is different to be the guy out on the boat pulling traps in and seeing what is really in front of your face. I liked this interplay a lot.
The narrative is interesting because clearly the author is privy to all kinds of situations, he is witness to all kinds of things and yet he is NOT part of it. It's a very objective way of storytelling, with no opinions. I noticed it but it didn't bother me that he is clearly telling a story about a world he is involved in, in some unknown way (the author's notes do give us clues). I liked his writing style enough that I would absolutely read more by this author. Not only do I feel like I know more about lobsters, but I have a real sense of a specific way of life that ebbs and flows with traps full of them.